A crone, a shadow, a witch. A legend. She denied the linguists a foothold, when they failed to trace the Baba or the Yaga to Samarra; we know what waited for them there. She refused to exit the wilds to set a pointed toe in Grimm, let alone bothering with that dilettante, Lang. And she eluded even the (in)famous Joseph Campbell, who would have dispensed with her as a mere obstacle to his calf-brained hero. Only the grandmothers know her. She surfaces once in a generation.
She came to America, in times past:
For the flappers and the jazz luminaries, discarding restrictions.
For Rosie, and rivets.
For the third wave.
But not just for the women, not this time; their chorus of Me Too! has cracked the dome, and its pointed white shards will fall, fall, fall.
She comes because the dear old hut on its chicken legs teeters. The firebird has come to ancient forests and the air itself is smoking. The odor of rot haunts the familiar grasslands as primeval frosts devolve into oozing swamps; animal carcasses by the millions, putrefying. The land finds itself devoured like every naughty child in the fae canon.
The grandmothers herald her with dry tongues; indulgent-then-irritated descendants fail to shush them into shame. She comes, the Wild One. Only the tots listen, ears alert, jaws working, as their mothers pry their grubby fists out of their mouths.
Their leached bones can tell the weather and the way. They know this time Baba Yaga has come to whisper in little Greta’s ear and not to sue for Greenpeace. She has come to smell out the treasonous bots from their distinctive traces. She has come to intone the prehistoric songs, to remind the women that the forests were their first mothers. She is coming.
And then she comes, on a late September breeze, blazing through no-fly zones with her skull lantern held aloft. She is a comet, a ball of fire and ice, a prophecy. She sends seismograph needles flying and the Air Force scrambling; the latter-day clairvoyants doomsay via tweet. She alights before the rigid azure-and-steel monument to humanity’s aspirations and collective failures.
The meetings will occur today.
And even now she defies the scientists, the soldiers, the charlatans. She heaps scorn on security pawns’ demands to produce her badge; she astonishes the habitually poker-faced journalists; she thunders to the front of the room in a discordant pink hat. The slim, startled premier at the podium gives way before her – out of instinctive deference or terror, or simply recoiling at her stench. She bears a pestle, which she bangs on the podium. She brings a warning.
Not for herself.
Not for the women.
Nor the children.
But for the Great Mother, whose lungs collapse even as her children shriek and continue their global game, an endless repetition of Lord of the Flies.
And they have the facts already, the words and the numbers and the analysis, searchable for free, but the men in their soft suits disdained and discarded them along with their Styrofoam and junk awards. So she eschewed repeating them, and simply screamed the basic truth:
“YOU ARE KILLING THE MOTHER OF US ALL!
FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR DAUGHTERS AND SONS,
DO NOT LET THIS WORLD DISINTEGRATE INTO SHIT!”
About the Author: Linda McMullen is a wife, mother, diplomat, and homesick Wisconsinite. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in over forty literary magazines, including, most recently, Arachne Press, Luna Station Quarterly, Ripples in Space, Write Ahead/The Future Looms Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Storgy, and Newfound.